Even if you love domesticated rodents as much as any other animal, you may not find much to love about an infestation of wild rats in your Florida home. These creatures breed rapidly, chew through critical parts of your home, and can spread some alarming diseases to you and your houseguests.

Fortunately, you can conquer a rat problem in the making and keep future rat issues at bay once you understand some key points about how these pests live, how to recognize their presence, and how professional pest control experts can come to the rescue. Give yourself a crash course on the subject with these frequently asked questions.

What Kinds of Rats Invade Florida Homes?

Three rat species in particular tend to plague Sunshine State homeowners. Roof rats, also known as citrus rats, palm rats, or fruit rats for their dietary preferences, represent the most common of all these home invaders. These dark-colored rats, which reach up to eight inches in length, build their nests in high places.

Norway rats can also infest Florida homes when their natural outdoor habitat starts running low on food and water. These rats, which often grow larger than the average roof rat, take the opposite approach compared to their roof-dwelling cousins by burrowing their nests in low-lying parts of the house.

The third and least common Florida household rat, the wood rat, tends to appear more in North Florida than South Florida, but you still might encounter it in your home. These fuzzy-eared rats, also nicknamed pack rats, like to eat wood, leaves, stems, seeds, and other organic material, but they’ll take whatever else your home offers.

How and Why Do Rats Enter Residences?

Rats can get into homes in a variety of ways. Most obviously, they can squeeze through small gaps in your walls, in your foundation, or around your windows. They can also enter through vents or areas of damaged wood in your roof. A chimney without a cap can also serve as an entryway for invading rats.

Rats typically enter homes in search of food, water, and a comfortable place to build nests and raise offspring. A disruption to their normal environment may force them to seek out new territory in your home. The cooler weather of the winter months may also compel rats to seek the warmth and security of your home.

What Dangers Do Rats Pose?

Rats can cause many problems for your home and its occupants. These creatures use their sharp teeth to chew through wooden beams and boards, potentially weakening key structural components. They can also damage insulation and electrical wiring, placing your family at risk for electrical fires.

Rats hold well-earned reputations as disease carriers. Just a few of the 35 diseases these pests can transmit to humans include plague, leptospirosis, salmonellosis (as carriers of salmonella bacteria), an inflammatory disease called tularemia, and a dangerous respiratory issue called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

How Do Pest Control Experts Deal With Rat Infestations?

Symptoms of a rat infestation include scratching and squeaking noises coming from inside the walls or (in the case of roof rats) from your attic. Check your home for chewed-up areas, droppings, and greasy marks left behind on surfaces. If you notice any of these trouble signs, contact a professional pest control service for help.

Experienced pest control technicians know where to look for rodent nests and how to spot an infestation in progress. Depending on the scale of the infestation, your pest control service may involve different elimination strategies, ranging from the placement to a few traps here and there to the use of poisons.

How Can You Keep Future Rat Problems to a Minimum?

Preventative strategies can go a long way toward minimizing future household rat encounters. Your pest control inspector can point out any holes, cracks, and other breaches in your home that you may need to fix. Seal food and trash tightly, and fix any sources of water keas around the house, to avoid attracting rats.

Highland Pest Control can serve as your rodent elimination headquarters. Contact either of our locations today to schedule a home inspection and any necessary treatment.